Terpenes have been around for centuries. Long ago in ancient China, people even used them in holistic medicinal practices. They are strong organic compounds found all over in different botanicals and many researchers have uncovered a wide array of applications and benefits of terpenes. With this, many businesses have started exploring terpene products to improve people’s physical and mental health.
As the terpenes industry grows, more people should be aware of them to make better decisions in the long run. There are around 30,000 identified terpenes, and all of them have distinct characteristics, which is why it’s important to understand them. In this article, the focus will be on the versatile terpene, humulene.
Humulene Terpene Profile
Also known as α-humulene or α–caryophyllene, humulene is found in the essential oils of Humulus lupulus or common hops. A person can easily distinguish the smell of humulene as it has a whiff of the spiciness of ginger or ginseng. Its spicy, woodsy, and earthy notes give the beer its distinctive bitter “hoppy” taste and aroma.
Humulene’s chemical formula is C₁₅H₂₄, and its atoms are arranged in an eleven-membered ring. It shares the same chemical formula as β-caryophyllene but is different in structure and properties. This similarity is also the reason humulene is referred to as alpha-caryophyllene.
Many of the same plants that contain β-caryophyllene also carry humulene. Different herbs and spices like coriander, basil, sage, clove, black pepper, and the balsam fir tree share similar aromas because they all have humulene in common. One of the best sources of humulene is of course hops, a common ingredient in beer brewing.
If someone wants to boost their humulene intake and experience its effects, they can add the aforementioned humulene-rich ingredients to their diet or take a humulene product alongside adding these components to their food.
Benefits of Humulene
Many years ago, people used humulene-rich ingredients in their medicinal concoctions to fight different illnesses and bacteria. Now, researchers are re-discovering the benefits and therapeutic versatility of this extraordinary terpene.
More and more research about terpenes is conducted every year, but further studies about these natural compounds are needed to establish their beneficial effects on health. Among all the kinds of terpenes, humulene is one that’s been studied more extensively. With this, here are the known benefits humulene may provide:
Anti-inflammatory / Pain Relief
Many people take terpenes to reduce pain. Humulene is one of the terpenes that tackles that pain head-on. It has anti-inflammatory properties so potent that it’s compared to steroid dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medicine.
A person can feel more of its effects when they take humulene orally or topically. Humulene-rich salves or lotions may help with joint or muscle pain. Some people have even been known to use humulene as a treatment for arthritis.
Multiple researchers are currently investigating humulene as a weight-loss tool. Due to its appetite suppressing properties, humulene’s effects may include weight loss. A lot of humulene users noticed that their appetites were curbed when they ingested this compound.
The best way to take humulene without smoking it is through aromatherapy as it can be effective when diffused. While humulene is known to inhibit appetites, there are yet to be studies to prove this claim. Hopefully, as more studies about terpenes are completed, researchers can explore and uncover the anorectic effects of humulene.
Humulene may contain therapeutic properties that can target cancer cells. Alongside studies about its anti-inflammatory qualities, humulene was also found to prevent tumor growth in rats.
In addition to this, some research shows that humulene in balsam fir oil focuses on anti-tumor activity or apoptosis (cell suicide) of cancer cells. Based on the study, humulene triggers Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production, which causes apoptosis. It also prevents the spread and growth of tumors and cancer cells.
Humulene found in basal fir, a product used in folk medicine, was found to have antibacterial properties against the bacteria strain: Staphylococcus aureus (a.k.a. golden staph). This kind of bacteria can lead to nasty infections and diseases if left unchecked. When evaluated, humulene was so powerful that it showed minimum inhibitory concentration and was the most potent of all the terpenes studied.
Humulene can deter not only bacteria but also insects. Many insects can’t stand the anti-pest properties of this compound, which is why many plants evolved to produce humulene. For plants, humulene serves as a defense mechanism against pests and fungal infestations. Because humulene can fend off pests, studies also found that people can use it in the fight against malaria and dengue fever.
Heal with Humulene
Most terpenes have distinct characteristics, and humulene is definitely one of the more unique terpenes out there. It doesn’t only bring a peppery hops scent, but it also has proven medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-tumor. However, further research is still needed to solidify these claims.
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